SUBJECT :Ramachandran, in his presentation, pointed out that foreign tourists who came here were in search of spiritual experience and the number of domestic tourists had also been increasing every year. 

Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur. Image used for representative purpose. (M K Ashok Kumar)

Chennai, January 26, 2019: The Tamil Nadu government has wooed the investors, who gathered at the Global Investors Meet to invest in spiritual, heritage and eco-tourism sectors as the government is promoting them in a full swing and showcased a lot of opportunities available for making investments in them.

Apurva Varma, Tourism Secretary, TK Ramachandran, who was HR and CE Secretary till recently and now chairman of Thoothukudi Port Trust and SK Srivastava, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife), have made presentations at a seminar held as part of the GIM about the present scenario of tourism in the State and the areas in which investments could be made.

“Tamil Nadu has been holding No.1 position regarding domestic and foreign tourist visits during 2014, 15, 16 and 17.  During 2017, we have 34.50 crore domestic tourists’ visits and 48.60 lakh foreign tourist visits. This proves that Tamil Nadu is one of the most preferred destinations for tourist visit,” Varma said, addressing the gathering of investors.

“Oldest culture, historical monuments, outstanding temple architecture, mesmerising landscape, dense forests, five UNESCO-declared heritage sites etc. are among the tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu. We are trying to promote environmentally and socially inclusive tourism,” he added.  

Ramachandran, in his presentation, pointed out that foreign tourists who came here were in search of spiritual experience and the number of domestic tourists had also been increasing every year.

“So, we are in the age of spiritual tourism,” he said and recalled how he happened to meet a couple from Malaysia, who were visiting the ‘arupadai veedu’ of Lord Muruga (six abodes of Lord Muruga) in the order they were supposed to follow.  So, accordingly, they were on their way to Tiruchendur, the second abode of Lord Muruga. 

“During the recent kumbh mela at Prayagraj, lakhs of people attended and there were large investments by private sector.  For example, making luxury tents for the pilgrims apart from already available permanent boarding and lodging places was a key area there,” he said. He said investments could be made in tours, travel operators, security, emergency handling, crowd management, medical facilities, traffic management, assisting the pilgrims, etc.

Some of the oldest temples in India are located in Tamil Nadu. For example, the Srirangam temple is located on 700 acres where one or other kind of festival is going for 300 days in a year. And there are the 11th century Brihadeeswara temples in Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram temple, Mahabalipuram sculptures, Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple etc. So, the spectrum for investment in spiritual tourism is so wide in Tamil Nadu. 

Presenting the details of eco-tourist initiatives in Tamil Nadu, Srivastava said the Western Ghats was a global diversity hotspot which has many opportunities for eco-tourism. Tamil Nadu has 15 wildlife sanctuaries, 15 bird sanctuaries, five national parks, two conservation reserve, four tiger reserves, four elephant reserves and three biosphere reserves.

Opportunities for eco-tourism development exist outside the protected areas and tiger reserves; he said and added that community-based eco-tourism sites outside protected areas could be further strengthened. The State Eco Tourism Board would steer ecotourism in the State.

Eco-tourism management societies at the district-level will promote, manage and regulate eco-tourism sites while existing eco-tourism management committees will be integrated into eco-tourism federation at district-level. Community based eco-tourism is being promoted in 25 sites outside protected areas.  Micro plans are prepared for all sites